The Oakland Department of Catholic Schools is committed to providing quality Catholic education to the diverse school communities it serves. Through the use of current and relevant technology, the Department of Catholic School’s vision is to help foster a Christ-centered community by providing guidance with technology to enhance student learning. Through the integration of technology in curriculum, the Department of Catholic Schools fosters personal development of every student and educator. The encouragement of technology in education provides opportunities to enhance relationships among education professionals and Christian communities across the Oakland Diocese.
Technology Mission Statement
The Department of Catholic Schools supports the integration of technology across the curriculum at all grade levels, fostering growth in digital literacy, critical thinking, creative publishing, effective communication, ethical use, and improved productivity.
The development of computer technology over the last 20 years has caused massive shifts in how people work, communicate, and learn. We know that the skills current students will need to be productive, fulfilled adults are significantly different from those our parents and grandparents needed. In addition to basic skills in reading and mathematics, our students must become self-directed, life-long learners as well as ethical, responsible citizens prepared to meet the increasing challenges of a global, information-based society. They must learn how to access, manipulate, and evaluate information, synthesize concepts, and creatively express their ideas to others using increasingly more sophisticated tools. Moreover, students must learn to use these tools in a manner reflective of Gospel values and Catholic social teaching, where technology tools are used to foster the goals of “message, community and service.”
Instructional technology, when used appropriately, can help prepare students for this changing world by incorporating innovative new instructional strategies that provide all students with opportunities to learn. Technology can bring a world of knowledge within a keystroke by linking students to information sources and other students around the world.
Technology tools enable students to actively engage with content through project-based learning that promotes cooperative learning, high-level problem solving, and the sharing of knowledge with a wide audience. By supporting students with a variety of tools to research, produce media, and share, well-trained and motivated teachers can unleash creativity and excitement in all students.
Through the utilization of technology, teachers possess the ability to track student progress, and provide individualized student instruction to better meet the diverse needs of their students. Record keeping systems can provide teachers with data driven planning and student-focused instruction time. Social media can provide teachers with access to their peers and other teaching experts where they can share subject matter in order to gain additional knowledge, share ideas and collaborate on lesson planning.
Demands on school administrators have expanded dramatically over the years. Technology can assist principals by automating and simplifying the school’s information management and communication systems. In addition, technology can facilitate communication between school and home allowing for the more efficient and open exchange of information with parents.
Building a Technology-Rich Learning Environment
A core philosophy of the Department of Catholic Schools is that technology learning should be integrated throughout the curriculum. Isolating technology learning to a single course or subject is to misunderstand the role that technology plays in modern life. Today, information technology is a fundamental feature of the environment in which we live, work, and learn. To be prepared for future modes of education, employment, and citizenship, students should have regular and diverse experiences using technology to learn, collaborate, create, and publish.
Integrating technology throughout the curriculum enables students to learn in many ways. Successful integration is achieved when students use appropriate tools to obtain information, analyze and synthesize the information, and present their findings professionally across content areas. Technology should be an integral part of a functioning classroom, developing students towards technology transparency, the state at which the tool is as invisible a part of the learning experience as paper and pen.
The classroom learning environment shifts to engaging, motivating and supporting all learners, with technology integrated into the classroom practice and student learning. “A student’s capacity for learning is influenced by the manner in which the subject matter is presented.” As educators know, “students must learn how to learn and identifying which formats are most effective with which students is a part of this process. Creating opportunities to provide meaningful reinforcement of subject area concepts is one important aspect” of a technology rich learning environment.
Engaging, Motivating and Supporting All Learners
It is undeniable that students today are more exposed to digital media than ever before. A 2010 study found that 8-18 year olds spend 6½ hours consuming media each day. For many students, school may be the only part of their day when they are forced to disconnect. Bringing web resources, video, and games into the classroom can engage students by integrating their chosen leisure activities into the learning environment.
Such engagement allows students to focus on assignments with less distractions, motivates students to start the learning process and causes a shift in student behavior from passive to active.
Common Core Integration
The implementation of the common core curriculum necessitates the seamless integration of technology and instructional methodologies to achieve the highest-level outcomes possible. To meet common core standards, students must have experience using the Internet and other technology tools to write collaboratively and publish. They will need to be able to evaluate information from multiple sources in multiple mediums, recognizing the increasing importance of digital text, social sources, audio and video in educational environments. By the end of secondary school students are expected to be able to make strategic use of digital media. Integrated technology is the only instructional model that provides students with the diverse experiences necessary to make informed choices among the instructional tools used.
Support of Diverse Learning Styles
The integration of technology provides greater opportunities for students to engage with material appropriate to their personal learning style or their individual challenges, more so than was previously possible.
Instructional strategies are increasingly student-centered. With content reflective of the real world, the separation between isolated disciplines has become less defined. Learning that is connected to real world challenges, draws upon many resources for solutions. When a powerful idea or relevant situation is presented in a learning context, students are motivated to collaborate, explore ideas, and find solutions. In educational learning activities, it becomes apparent that:
Technology must often be used to facilitate these real-world experiences, allowing students to make important connections that cross the artificial boundaries of individual subject areas. Never before in our educational history have students had the opportunity to reach out to students in other geographic locations and to mentors throughout the working world, or to immediately retrieve up-to-date resources. Never before have they been able to share the products of their work so easily with the entire world.
Elementary School Learning
Multidisciplinary learning is the natural and developmentally appropriate way that learning occurs in the elementary years. Mobile technology in particular offers young students creative opportunities that would have been procedurally prohibitive in the past. Students can now demonstrate what they learn about their world with photographs, voice, and video; shared with a global audience. The ability to do this from a single device is not just convenient; it is transformative. Using technology generally, and mobile technology in particular, to explore multidisciplinary problems is an appropriate model for all student-centered instruction.
In the face of newly required standards-based curricula and recent insights into how students learn, it is even more important that teachers work together to foster natural bridges across curricula and that they apply up to date teaching practices to enhance the process and engage learners.
High School Learning
The strongest use of integrated technology is occurring at the secondary grade levels. With the advent of mobile technology, many high schools have jumped ahead by providing students with digital learning tools, as ubiquitous throughout their day as pen and paper. Providing students a technology-rich learning environment is also important because it mirrors the higher education and workplace environments towards which they are moving. Integrated technology or even one-to-one device programs can teach students essential soft skills, such as multitasking, personal organization, and deep focus despite the distractions our connected world presents.
By providing continued exposure and guidance in the use of the technology, the hardware, software, and media become just another conduit for information. Collaboration and consultation with fellow students, faculty, and experts near and far is fast becoming an everyday experience. Mobile computing and storage devices have fulfilled the promise of anytime, anyplace learning. Increasingly powerful computers provide students with real-world problem-solving tools. They help students overcome handicaps, choose among learning strategies, perceive and create new relationships among subjects, and demonstrate their knowledge in words, pictures, moving images, and sound.
The challenge for these ambitious schools may now be to adjust their schedules, strategies, or educational philosophies to take the greatest possible advantage of available tools. The ability to access and store digitized information allows the student to research, collect, and share on an unparalleled level, but it also can change the priorities of the classroom. For example, what is the value of taking notes when a lesson can be video recorded and posted online instantly? The experience of these changes allows us to re-conceive the high school learning environment where disciplines cross-pollinate and students' learning is truly integrated.
Preparing Students for Future Systems
The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards recognize that technology changes rapidly and students must learn skills that take new developments into account. It is no longer sufficient for students to learn how to use the available tools, because those tools will be obsolete within a few years. For this reason, instruction must incorporate the ability to transfer current knowledge to learning new technologies. This can be achieved through a sustained, integrated approach that exposes students to diverse systems and highlights core principles.